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Monday, February 25, 2008

Google AdWords Warning: Block MySpace Traffic

Google knows that its contextual advertising system doesn't work for MySpace traffic. From the latest Google 10-K (annual report):
The increase in cost of revenues as a percentage of revenues, as well as traffic acquisition costs as a percentage of advertising revenues, was primarily related to the performance of a few Google Network member web sites for which we are required to make guaranteed payments, including social networking traffic, which is not monetizing as well as expected. This more than offset the increase in the proportion of advertising revenues coming from our web sites rather than from our Google Network members’ web sites.
There's speculation that Google and Fox might try to terminate their advertising deal. I've been blocking traffic for clients who are opted into the Google AdWords content network. Why? The traffic is useless. Users of social networks are clearly blind to contextual ads. Here's an example that should make this clear: google adwords traffic

The CTR is, essentially, zero. Could you imagine paying for traffic on a CPM basis??!! Google knows the MySpace social network traffic is useless yet they're trying to convince advertisers to buy it on a CPM basis. Notice the text at the bottom of the "Will my ads show on MySpace?" help page:
If you'd like to target specifically, consider creating a placement-targeted campaign. With a placement-targeted campaign, you target individual sites rather than keywords to help determine where your ads can show.
No! Don't do it! Do NOT ever buy traffic via a placement-targeted campaign. Instead, for any keyword-targeted campaign that's opted into the content network, be sure to block via the site exclusion tool. Advertisers shouldn't have to pay for the fact that Google made a bad deal with Fox.

It's also pretty poor that Google, knowing full well that social networking is not a good fit for the AdWords contextual advertising system, is actively pushing advertisers to opt into this traffic. Via their special page dedicated to social networks on the Google AdWords content network:
Social networks are a powerful channel for reaching a variety of users on the web. You can select between CPM and CPC pricing. If the purpose of your placement-targeted campaign is to increase sales, leads, sign-ups, or other conversion-oriented metrics, you can select CPC bidding and pay when users click on your ads. If you want to maximize impressions and increase brand awareness among your target audience, you can select CPM bidding.
Wow! Think about that. Google is actively selling something they really don't believe in. Let them eat the cost of their mistake. I suggest:
  1. DO block via site exclusion.
  2. DO NOT target via placement targeting.
Related Posts:
Will MySpace Degrade the Quality of Google's Ad Network?
AdSense Failure: Social Networking Sites (MySpace + Facebook)

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Presidential Debates Search Advertising Recap

Watching the Texas debate last night reminded me of a search advertising experiment I ran over the summer. That experiment led to some interesting conversations with a journalist from Wired. Now seems like a good time to recap the posts from 2007 concerning that experiment. The two in bold were mentioned in the "Which Presidential Candidates Have Mastered Google?" Wired article:
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Google Online Marketing Challenge - Go Beavers!

Wow. A few weeks ago, I wrote: Google Online Marketing Challenge a Clever Recruiting Tactic. That certainly has proved to be the case. Yesterday, Google announced (emphasis mine):
Now we're giving 21,000 students the chance to experiment and gain hands on experience of this medium -- and to empower small local businesses to harness the power of the web to attract more customers. In a vast global academic competition, business students from 466 universities in 61 countries will participate in the Google Online Marketing Challenge.
How many small businesses participating in the marketing challenge will remain as customers? Keep in mind, the requirement is that these are new AdWords advertisers. Of those 21,000 students from 466 universities, how many new businesses have they managed to recruit on behalf of Google? How many of those students, in turn, will either apply for a job at Google or enter the search engine marketing field? I imagine this program is already viewed as a stunning success at the Googleplex.

Go Beavers! I'll be rooting for the 5 teams from my alma mater, MIT:

mit google online marketing challenge teams

Related Posts:
Doodle for Google Contest
Top 5 Ways Ignorant Advertisers Lose Money to Google via AdWords

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Doodle for Google Contest

doodle for google contestI think Google's adopted a strategy of using contests to maintain brand awareness, to keep people using their search engine for the long term. I think that's why their contests focus on students, the future of Google's revenues. Today, they've announced
The National Winner will win a $10,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of their choice, a trip to the Googleplex, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle. We'll also award the winner's school a $25,000 grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.
The Doodle for Google contest is open to K-12 students. Not too long ago, they announced a contest for college students called the Google Online Marketing Challenge. See the pattern? Clever way to keep top of mind, eh?

I wonder if the goodwill they generate from these contests helps them gloss over serious blunders they've made and which might have had more serious consequences for other companies. Examples of Google mistakes that could harm the Google brand:
  1. Hijacking 404 pages (confirmed by Google)
  2. Domain name search hijacking
  3. Running a hidden ad network
  4. Ignoring their own corporate mission and philosophy
  5. Not addressing serious flaws in their advertising system
The contests they run are cool and clearly generate good press for Google. However, for a company that aspires to "do no evil" and whose stated mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" it'd be great if they devoted resources to solving some of the above problems. Let me know if you contest this assertion. ;-)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008 - What Are Super Delegates?

Watching the CNN coverage of the Potomac Primary exit polls, I'm also tracking search trends online. Interesting to see a spike in searches for Looks like the site answers the question: What are Super Delegates? Those delegates might become increasingly relevant due to the close race between Obama and Clinton. Read about the launch on the blog of its creator, Rick Klau:
Related Post:
As Seen In Wired

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Pro Flowers (ProFlowers) Valentine Gifts Alternative

Via TagTrends, I noticed that many people are searching for either pro flowers or proflowers leading up to Valentine's Day. Maybe that's not such a good idea:

Unboxing of ProFlowers

If you're going to have something shipped in a box, why not send these delicious and nutritious valentine gifts as an alternative to flowers?

valentine gifts from Maine

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Monday, February 04, 2008

2008 Super Bowl Ads via

Last year, in Super Bowl Commercials Preview, I wrote:
Will their be spikes in keyword searches via search engines like Google due to Super Bowl ad content? If so, who will benefit? I'll also be expecting to see some interesting PPC ads on Google (and perhaps Yahoo) that tie in to Super Bowl commercials. Perhaps there'll be some savvy competitors who launch PPC advertising campaigns today, on Super Bowl Sunday, to take advantage of traffic from television ads they didn't even create.
This year, I knew I wouldn't have time to watch the search trends in real-time. So, I downloaded the Google hot trends data feed each hour for a few hours. I'll sift through the data this week, to see if it sparks any search marketing ideas for my clients. Here's a sample of the data (note that the search trends are, indeed, updated hourly):
I did notice from the 10pm feed that the trend of direct navigation via search is still strong. Why do people type URLs into search boxes? Consider these searches:
I generally don't find clicking on a link a pleasant experience, so I'd look elsewhere for a recap of the 2008 Super Bowl ads. These search trends from today fit the bill:
Again, interesting that people type into a search box rather than navigate directly to the site. Anyway, the SpotBowl Leaderboard lists all the 2008 Super Bowl ads. is run by Pavone, an ad agency. Based on the search trends, I imagine they're generating some pretty good exposure for themselves today. The domain name is a clever one, too.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

YHOO + MSFT = Overture 2.0?

MSFT offers to buy YHOO. Wow! Details:
Microsoft Corp. is offering $44.6 billion in cash and stock for search engine operator Yahoo Inc. in a move to boost its competitive edge in the online services market.

The unexpected announcement Friday comes as Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, seeks new ways to compete more efrfectively against the search and online advertising powerhouse Google Inc.

In a letter to Yahoo's board of directors, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said the company will bid $31 per share, representing a 62 percent premium to Yahoo's closing stock price Thursday, and emphasized that the deal isn't subject to financing.
microsoft yahoo overtureThis is big news for those of us in the search engine advertising industry. Remember when Overture supplied PPC ads to both Yahoo and Microsoft? I'm still holding some YHOO shares I have via the Overture acquisition in 2003. Today might be a good day to exit that position. ;-)

I wonder if MSFT is a subscriber to Analytical Investing (a client). The MSFT offer is $31 per share which is awfully close to the $30.74 intrinsic value from the Analytical Investing stock valuation model. Nice call:

yhoo value investing

Related Posts:
Yahoo! Should NOT Be For Sale
Microsoft to Buy Yahoo! to Battle Google?

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